We have great memories of al fresco meals, both in the Tuscan countryside and in our Brooklyn back- yard. But this particular combination of simple lentils and creamy burrata is the perfect example of how Tuscans can take humble foods and turn them into something extraordinary.
There’s nothing complicated about this marinated salad, and its “secret,” if there is one, is to let the ingredients speak for themselves.
Picture by Eric Wolfinger.
Makes 4 Servings
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, nely chopped
1 medium carrot, cut into 1∕4-inch dice
1 medium celery rib, cut into 1∕4-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup green lentils (lentils de Puy, see Note), rinsed and drained 1∕2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1∕8 teaspoon hot red pepper akes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 1∕4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon minced fresh at-leaf parsley 8 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces 2 burrata cheeses (about 14 ounces total)
1 To make the lentils: Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables so en, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the lentils and add enough water to cover the lentils by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook at a steady simmer until the lentils are barely tender (not mushy or falling apart), about 20 minutes. Drain well in a wire sieve. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool.
2To make the dressing: Whisk the lemon juice, hot red pepper akes, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper together in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Whisk in the parsley. Pour over the lentils and mix gently. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. ( e salad can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Reseason the salad before serving.)
3Mix in the basil. Tear each burrata into quarters. Serve the lentil salad, topping each with a bur- rata slice and its creamy insides.
NOTE: While you can make this with standard brown lentils, it is worth searching out the small dark green ones, o en imported from France. (Between us, they are not Italian, but we like them anyway!) If using large brown lentils, increase the cooking time to 30 minutes.